Volume 9 Number 8
IN THIS ISSUE:
2. Promoting Responsibility
3. Increasing Effectiveness
4. Improving Relationships
5. Promoting Learning
7. Discipline without Stress
8. Testimonials and Research
MONTHLY RESPONSIBILITY AND LEARNING QUOTE:
Grant me the serenity
to accept the people I cannot change,
to change the person I can, and
to know that I am that person.
The book, “PARENTING WITHOUT STRESS: How to Raise
Responsible Kids While Keeping a Life of Your Own,” is at
the editor. It will be published later this year.
The most common response obtained from people who have read
the 150-page draft say, “Why didn’t I know about the
approaches in this book sooner?”
The book and the numerous stories and examples are
ESPECIALLY FOR PARENTS. For those interested in viewing the
book and the Table of Contents, link to
If you are interested in placing an order for a discount,
mailto:Marv@MarvinMarshall.com and in the SUBJECT line,
insert “Parenting Book.” You will be notified when the book
is available and how you can receive the discount.
This issue of the newsletter launches an additional section
Consider sharing the newsletter with some friends who are
parents by forwarding this issue to them with an
I have had so many requests for the DISCIPLINE WITHOUT
STRESS POWERPOINT that I have added it to my website. Feel
free to use/share it as you desire.
To download the PowerPoint, link to the “Media Room” at
Click on the second item. This link will take you directly
to the PowerPoint at
This month is a good time for schools in the USA to receive
DWS books free for all certificated staff members–along
with a free staff development package. The site for the
public charity application is at
2. PROMOTING RESPONSIBILITY
Following a presentation, the following were
the top three
“keepers” from participants:
(1) When you aim at getting obedience with today’s young
people, you often get resistance and sometimes even
(2) Relying on rules places you in the position of a cop.
(3) Coercion is the least effective approach for influencing
another person to change.
3. INCREASING EFFECTIVENESS
As you engage in conversations, attempt to infer people’s
assumptions behind their thoughts.
Say something like, “I found what you said interesting, and
I found myself thinking about the assumptions behind it.”
This often transforms the dialogue and results in a much
more interesting as well as an enlightening and influencing
4. IMPROVING RELATIONSHIPS
BE KIND TO ONE ANOTHER is the golden rule of
The opposite and easiest way to destroy a relationship is
to register disgust.
5. PROMOTING LEARNING
The August 3, 2009 issue of Time Magazine had an interesting
article about cursive handwriting.
The publication of “A Nation at Risk,” about the state of
education in the USA, initiated an era of standardized
assessment. The 2004 passage of “No Child Left Behind”
intensified measuring student learning solely on test
scores. It is fairly well-recognized that the practical
effect of this legislation has been an increased
concentration on teaching to what tests focus on. In
practical terms, if something is not on the standardized
test it is viewed as a luxury. As one expert put it, “It is
getting harder and harder to balance what’s on the test with
what children need to know.”
To continue, “Reading is on there, but handwriting isn’t so
it’s not as important. In other words, schools don’t care
how a child holds her pencil as long as she can read.”
As an elementary principal, I modeled, gave instruction, and
even distributed an illustration on the “proper” way to
hold a pencil for optimum penmanship. Today, little time is
spent on teaching cursive and, as the article states, the
skill of reading cursive may become a thing of the past.
With twitter and the use of instant messaging, one can just
imagine not only what handwriting may be in the future but
what will happen to spelling.
Maybe change is good; maybe it’s not. But as economists
state, there is an opportunity cost for everything.
Apparently we are giving up beauty for speed, artistry for
I wonder if we realize the learning (or lack of it) that we
are actually promoting.
I received the following inquiry:
I wonder if you could help me out with a problem with my 4
and 5 year olds in a play-based preschool setting. Some of
the children swear a lot. We have discussed that this might
be okay at home but at kinder it isn’t okay with everyone
and so we find other words. So some do it furtively and
think that it is funny. I have spoken to parents who all say
they don’t want their child to speak in that way. But
children don’t want me to check with their parents, and they
admit that it’s not okay at home but they are spreading
their wings a bit. Any comments?
Take the initiative (Level D). You teach the teacher. Show
the teacher how to tell the youngsters that there are HIGH
levels (good) words and LOW level (bad) words. (Examples of
HIGH level words: “Thank you.” “It’s your turn.” “We don’t
hit others.” Examples of LOW level words: “Shut up!” and
other words you are referring to.
When youngsters hear an unacceptable word, teach them to
tell the teacher. The teacher then holds a very short
meeting with all the children and shares the word informing
them that it is a LOW level word. The teacher then asks
(elicits) from the group what they could say the next time
they hear the word. (Kids will come up with “Low level,”
“bad word,” “poor choice,” etc.)
Using this approach, the teacher will have made a game out
of the activity and EMPOWERED THE KIDS TO DO WHAT YOU WANT
THEM TO DO–rather than using unacceptable language (for
whatever the motivation is to do so).
7. Discipline without Stress (DWS)
The following is from the mailring:
Can anyone tell me how the Responsive Classroom model
dovetails with Marv’s teachings? I think there are lots of
connections and would like to explore them more.
The Responsive Classroom website explains that at the heart
of the Responsive Classroom approach are some classroom
practices. Those that are either in common with DWS or
MORNING MEETING – gathering as a whole class each morning to
greet one another, share news, and warm up for the day ahead
Morning meetings are suggested as a useful strategy in DWS
RULE CREATION – helping students create classroom rules to
ensure an environment that allows all class members to meet
their learning goals
Two points here:
1) DWS suggests that rules are counterproductive in
relationships (between teachers and students) because they
often encourage a perception of coercion. Marv recommends
that rules be replaced with procedures and expectations, or
with the term “Responsibilities.” For detailed discussion of
this topic, see the following link:
2) One of the key points in DWS is that classroom management
is the responsibility of the TEACHER. (Discipline, on the
other hand, is the responsibility of the students.) As such,
teachers hold the responsibility for creating classroom
procedures. Students become involved in the learning part of
the equation. They learn the procedures that have been
established and taught by the teacher. They don’t create the
procedures; they follow them. By following the procedures of
the classroom, students automatically act on Level C, the
level of acceptable classroom behavior. By choosing to
follow the procedures–even when the teacher isn’t
present–they can operate on higher Level D, the level of
internal motivation and self-discipline.
POSITIVE TEACHER LANGUAGE – using words and tone as a tool
to promote children’s active learning, sense of community,
This fits in well with DWS.
LOGICAL CONSEQUENCES – responding to misbehavior in a way
that allows children to fix and learn from their mistakes
while preserving their dignity
Although responding to misbehavior in a way that allows
children to fix and learn from their mistakes while
preserving their dignity fits with the DWS philosophy, the
idea that logical consequences are effective in achieving
this goal does not. DWS offers the understanding that
logical consequences are simply another form of punishment.
ACADEMIC CHOICE- increasing student learning by allowing
students teacher-structured choices in their work
“Choice” is one of the three guiding principles behind DWS,
so this statement would tie in well with DWS. All people
feel more motivation when they they have choices. In
addition, they are also more likely to feel cooperative when
they sense they have choices available to them.
DWS goes one step further though. Using the Hierarchy,
teachers can give students the understanding that learning
and quality-of-learning also involve choice. A teacher
cannot decide how well a student learns; the choice is up to
the student. If a student is interested in moving themselves
forward at the greatest speed or with the best results, that
student can consciously CHOOSE to take on the traits of a
good or great student. It’s up to that student. The teacher
will support the efforts of the student, but the student
must make the choice with regard to academic behavior. In my
experience, an amazing thing happens when you make students
aware of these choices in a non-coercive way. The students
WANT to aim for the highest level. I find this one of the
most exciting aspects of using the Hierarchy. I have the
perfect tool for motivating my students–both my eager
little grade ones and my older discouraged teenage students.
CLASSROOM ORGANIZATION – setting up the physical room in
ways that encourage students’ independence, cooperation, and
This would connect well to the DISCIPLINE WITHOUT STRESS
It’s the teacher’s responsibility to manage and organize the
structure of the classroom. Responsive Classroom has
specific ideas that might be useful to a DWS teacher.
WORKING WITH FAMILIES – creating avenues for hearing
parents’ insights and helping them understand the school’s
This proactive goal/strategy would also tie in very well
with the DWS philosophy.
COLLABORATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING – using conferencing, role
playing, and other strategies to resolve problems with
This strategy also ties in nicely.
More of Kerry’s responses are at her blog:
You can join the Discipline Without Stress mailing at
I recently received the following e-mail from a new
subscriber to the newsletter:
It breaks my heart. I took a class this summer and another
teacher told us about your system. My teaching partner
bought your book and we have been discussing it at length.
We feel like our lives have changed. As soon as I think I
can afford it, I will get your book as well. I taught Kinder
for seven years and I still have feelings of guilt over my
punitive discipline methods (which outweighed the positive
methods) and even my anger at the children. Now that I have
seen how your system works, I am afraid that I have scarred
some children for life. Fortunately, I am going to teach 3rd
grade and will have many of my former Kinder students. I
feel that maybe I can make up for my errors. I can’t wait to
read the book in full and start this school yearÊon a
sustaining positive note.
God Bless You!